Lisa Wiederlight

Executive Director, Acting Chair, Advocacy and Education and Outreach Committees

lisa wiederlight safeminds executive director Lisa joined SafeMinds in Spring 2015. She has worked in the Executive Office for the President of the United States as a public affairs specialist, secured over $10 million in grants as program manager for the Center for Safe Solution’s Technical Assistance with Grants initiative, and co-founded the Autism-Asperger Association of Calvert County, a parent-led organization offering information, support, and assistance to Southern Maryland families. Lisa graduated magna cum laude as a Dean’s Scholar from the University of Maryland College Park, with a B.A. in government and politics, and earned her master of public policy degree from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. A mom with a teenage son with autism, Lisa is a fierce champion of children’s health and well-being, and a tireless advocate for families affected by autism.

Sallie Bernard

Co-Founder & Board President

Sallie has been an autism advocate since 1996 when she joined the newly launched New Jersey chapter of Cure Autism Now. She helped start SafeMinds in 2000 and is currently its Board President. Sallie served as the Board President of Cure Autism Now. When CAN merged with Autism Speaks in 2007, she joined the Autism Speaks board and was a director for ten years. At Autism Speaks, Sallie served on its Family Services Committee and Science Committee of the Board, and chaired the Community Advisory Board for science and the Treatment & Diagnostics Committee.

Sallie began Ascendigo Autism Services (formerly Extreme Sports Camp) in 2004 in the Colorado Rocky Mountains near Aspen. Her goal was to provide the same outdoor adventure opportunities for children with autism that typically developing children enjoy. Ascendigo now offers summer camps, winter ski lessons, comprehensive adult services, transition programs, and behavior therapy using the Early Start Denver Model.

Sallie led the team which created the Yellow House, a private residence in a rural town for adults on the autism spectrum where Sallie’s adult son with autism lives. The Yellow House model is now expanding to additional residences.

Sallie has an interest in mental health issues and serves on the boards of the Aspen Hope Center and the James Kirk Bernard Foundation.

Sallie spent over 20 years in the marketing business before devoting herself full time to non-profit activities in 2005. She graduated with honors from Radcliffe College, Harvard University, in 1979. Sallie has resided in Aspen, Colorado since 2002 and enjoys the Colorado outdoors.

Michael Cummings, M.D.

Board Vice President & Research Committee Chair

  Dr. Michael Cummings has over 15 years of experience treating children, adolescents, and adults for all major psychiatric conditions and developmental challenges in a wide array of community and institutional settings. He currently serves as vice chair of community affairs and outreach for the Department of Psychiatry of the University at Buffalo, associate medical director of Erie County Medical Center.

Dr. Cummings has had a major focus on developing and integrating systems of care for individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities who are at high risk of avoidable hospitalization or incarceration. To this end, Dr. Cummings, along with his clinical partner Janell Van Cleve, has created a project entitled “APIC: Access to Psychiatry Through Intermediate Care.” This 1.8 million dollar grant-funded pilot program provides mobile psychiatric interventions and case management for children, adolescents, and adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities whose needs are not being met by the current system of care. The primary goal is to reduce avoidable emergency room visits, hospitalizations, arrests, out of home placements, and exposure to unnecessary poly-pharmacy.

Dr. Cummings earned his B.S. from Cornell University, and his M.D. from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biological Sciences. His residency at the University of Buffalo focused on general psychiatry, and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Heidi Kidd


Heidi Roger is a founding board member of SafeMinds, and is very involved in the public policy arena. She was involved with passage of the New Jersey Infantile Autism Biomedical Research Act, and helped craft the original draft of the first piece of federal autism legislation, the Children’s Health Act of 2000. Heidi is a co-author of “Autism: A Novel Form of Mercury Toxicity,” a landmark paper linking the symptoms of autism with excessive exposure to mercury, which was published in Neurotoxicology, Medical Hypothesis, Molecular Psychiatry, Mothering Magazine and Autism- Asperger’s Digest.  She served as president of the Cure Autism Now New Jersey chapter for two years, and co-chaired the first New Jersey/New York Walk Now event, which raised more than $300,000. She has one adult child, Andrew, who has autism, and who began speaking for the first time at age 11.

Mike DiMayo

Board Secretary

A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, Mike enjoyed a prominent career, spanning 29 years as the most successful producer in the history of The Hartford Life. He launched his own insurance company, The Affluence Group, LLC, in 2008. Mike and a business partner then formed Oxford Risk Management Group, LLC and affiliated entities, providing risk management consulting and implementation services, ongoing management, and tax and regulatory oversight to the captive insurance industry. The Oxford brand is recognized as the nation’s leading provider of captive insurance services.

Mike is a 30-year member of the Society of Financial Services Professionals, a member of the Baltimore Estate Planning Council, and has served as a keynote speaker for numerous industry and corporate meetings. Mike also received the Associate in Captive Insurance (ACI) designation in 2016, and has received recognition by Captive review as one of the Top 20 Influencers for Enterprise Risk Captives for two consecutive years.

In addition to serving as a member of SafeMinds board of directors, Mike is the board president of the Baltimore-based Casey Cares Foundation. Casey Cares is a nonprofit organization providing uplifting programs for critically-ill children and their families. In his spare time, he performs as a rhythm guitarist for “High Voltage,” the nation’s leading AC/DC tribute band.

Katie Wright

Board Member

katieKatie is the mother of two boys, Mattias, age 3 and 5 year-old Christian. Christian regressed into autism at 2.5 years old. She completed her undergraduate studies at Boston University, and earned a Masters in Education from Columbia University. Studying counseling psychology, Katie received her professional license in 2000. She served as the clinical director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Stamford, Conn., providing free and confidential counseling services to male and female survivors of rape and sexual assaults. Katie resigned her position when her son Christian became ill and now, with her husband Andreas, is dedicated to working to improve the lives of children and families affected by autism.

Honorary Board

Rachel Barcellona

Rachel is a powerhouse autism advocate and a person with autism and epilepsy. She is the current North American Miss Florida, and her platform, The Ability beyond Disabilities, is designed to inspire those that have challenges to strive for their dreams, and to educate those who might not understand the challenges people with disabilities face. Rachel is the International Spokesperson for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Florida (CARD-USF), and was recently elected to their executive board of directors. She is the Ambassador for the Unicorn Children’s Foundation, a member of the International Thespian Honor Society, an honor student, and a vocalist who loves to sing opera. Rachel has been able to sing twice at Madison Square Garden.  Her plans for future including graduatin from the University of South Florida, and opening her own school for children with disabilties.


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